Will Lightning Strike Twice? PSG vs Barcelona Preview
By Edward Steel
Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG host Barcelona in the second-leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday 10th March at 8pm. PSG hold a 4-1 lead and will be looking to avoid another Champions League nightmare against Barcelona with the French side all-but in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Could lightning strike twice? The last time PSG held a 3+ goal aggregate lead going into a UEFA Champions League second leg they ended up getting eliminated by Barcelona! A lot has changed since that incredible comeback in 2017.
In the first leg Barca took the lead early on against the run of play, but the quality of Pochettino’s side prevailed. As Kylian Mbappe scored a stunning hat-trick to put one foot into the next round for PSG. No team under the current Champions League format has ever lost the first leg of a knockout round at home by a 3+ goal margin and then turned it around in the second leg to go through.
Both sides have been in good from in their domestic leagues since the first leg with both teams winning 4 out of their 3 fixtures. Barcelona may have some confidence of performing a miraculous comeback after successfully coming back from a 2-0 Copa del Rey aggregate deficit to beat Sevilla 3-2. Only a quickfire start from Barca can give them any hope in the second leg, notably in La Liga Barca have scored their first goal inside 30 minutes in 12 of their last 13 away wins.
Although, PSG have kept 3 clean sheets in their last 4 fixtures, so Barca may find it difficult to break the Parisians down. Especially when you look at this Barcelona team now, back in 2017 they had a front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez, with both Neymar and Suarez moving on it is now in the hands of Lionel Messi to drag this Barcelona team to success. Messi has scored 119 Champions League goals over his stunning career, however, many feel this could be his final game playing in the competition with a future away from Barcelona looking to be a real possibility.
PSG have Neymar back in full training after a month out through injury, but he is still a doubt to play with Pochettino not looking to take a risk. The Argentine will have several first team stars fresh after rotating his side for the Coupe de France meeting with Brest. Moise Kean and Juan Bernat will not play.
Barcelona have Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto returning from injury for so it is unlikely they will feature, while Jordi Alba is also a doubt. Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati are both out with long term injuries.
Barcelona’s only chance of going through is if they go for it from the off and that will surely make for an entertaining affair. However, this will make them open to the counter-attack from PSG and with the pace and ability of Mbappe it’s hard to see Barca keeping a clean sheet, which would make it near enough impossible to progress.
PSG 2-1 Barcelona, PSG to win 6-2 on aggregate.